By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The California State Bar has seized the practice of a Lake Balboa man who has been charged with misrepresenting himself as an attorney to unsuspecting Los Angeles clients.

Efferin Deans, 54, was arrested on Oct. 28 and charged with three counts each of grand theft and practicing law without being a member of the state bar after a prior conviction, two counts of preparing false documentary evidence and one count of perjury by declaration – all felonies.

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According to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, Deans claimed to own the Law Offices of Deans & Associates in Canoga Park, and of filing court documents and appearing on the record as a licensed attorney. Deans allegedly sought out clients by targeting visitors to Los Angeles courthouses, and appeared in court on their behalf as recently as late August, when an LA Superior Court judge notified the state bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel that that Deans had appeared in the judge’s courtroom, holding himself out as an attorney.

“The unauthorized practice of law presents a serious threat to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities,” George Cardona, state bar chief trial counsel, said in a statement. “It is also a crime.”

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According to the state bar, Deans has a prior conviction for practicing law without a state bar license. He is fluent in Spanish and has a history of targeting Spanish speakers in need of legal help, state bar officials said.

An interim order issued by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County Thursday allowed the state bar to seize client files and records of former clients of Deans and the Law Offices of Deans & Associates from his office in Canoga Park and his San Fernando Valley home office.

Deans is being held on $176,000 bail and is scheduled to make his next court appearance Friday.

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Clients or former clients of Deans or his practice who want their client files back can contact the state bar’s dedicated bilingual phone number at (213) 765-1766. Anyone who believes they have been a victim of Deans or his practice can call the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (213) 974-1452.